Biden pulls ATF nominee, in setback for gun safety advocates

David Chipman
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has had only one Senate-confirmed director since 2006 — B. Todd Jones in 2013 — and it won't have a new one anytime soon. The White House said Thursday that President Biden has withdrawn the nomination of David Chipman, a former ATF agent who later advocated for new gun safety laws as a top official at the gun violence prevention group Giffords, after it couldn't find 50 Senate votes to confirm him.

Sen. Angus King (I-Vt.) had told the White House he wouldn't support Chipman's nomination, and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) were noncommittal. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden would nominate a new director "at an appropriate time," and a White House official told Politico that Biden won't create a Cabinet-level, non-Senate-confirmable position on gun violence, as some advocates want. "We have an office in the White House on gun policy, which is the Domestic Policy Council," the official said.

The Justice Department is in talks with Chipman to bring him on in a senior adviser role, Politico reports, but Biden does not think he has the authority to name him ATF director as a recess appointment.

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